Sometimes it takes the most unlikely heroes to save the day.
And hopefully, those heroes will be Ole Miss and the rest of the SEC football programs who are choosing to get vaccinated to help the country fight off the Delta variant and every other mutation of COVID-19.
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin said basically his whole organization has been vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the 2021 season.
Kiffin told ESPN that there is a 100 percent vaccination rate among players, coaches, staff members, and everybody within the program who will be on the practice field for the start of preseason football practice. It’s a remarkable accomplishment from Kiffin and the Ole Miss program because Mississippi is one of the least vaccinated states in the country.
Kiffin admitted that his program had been nowhere near 100 percent vaccinated at the start of the summer, so seeing this turnaround was likely a pleasant surprise. Kiffin added that he urged his assistants and other position coaches to make sure that they got the vaccine and tried to convince their players to do the same. Needless to say, it’s worked pretty well.
Ole Miss isn’t the only SEC school that’s done well with getting shots in arms. Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and LSU are all above 80 percent vaccinated, with the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs inching closer to the 90 percent threshold.
Hopefully, the initiative taken by these programs can rub off on their fanbases. The southeast is home to 3 of the 5 states with the worst vaccination rates in the country. People in these states aren’t even getting one shot in their arms let alone making sure they are fully protected.
As of July 27, the percentage of residents who are at least partially vaccinated looks like this, according to U.S. News. Of the top 10 least vaccinated states, six SEC states make the list. Here’s the bottom 10 (SEC states in bold).
- Mississippi (38.64%)
- Idaho (40.74%)
- Louisiana (40.97%)
- Wyoming (41.17%)
- Alabama (41.99%)
- Tennessee (44.06%)
- North Dakota (45.06%)
- Georgia (45.08%)
- Arkansas (45.48%)
- West Virginia (45.90%)
I understand that there is too much money on the line for crucial players to be missing games due to COVID when there’s a vaccine available. The main motivation for the high-vaccination rates may be these teams not wanting to forfeit games this year, but who cares, at least they are getting their job done.
I would say that I want these players to boycott playing games until these states can get up to a 70 percent vaccination rate, but I don’t want these athletes who are mainly Black and brown to miss out on money and opportunities because their fanbases want to act a fool and not get the vaccine.
I applaud these programs for resisting the trap of listening to conspiracy theories or political jargon and getting these players safely protected against this deadly virus.
Their fans should learn a thing or two from these young men about common sense and about doing what needs to be done to protect themselves and their fellow citizens.
Nearly 99 percent of people suffering severe illness from COVID are unvaccinated.
If your doctor has cleared you to take the vaccine, you should be taking the vaccine. The fact of the matter is you are safer with it than you are without it.
SEC fans, follow the example of your teams and get those shots in your arms.